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What are anti-anxiety drugs?

Anti-anxiety drugs include a number of classes of drugs used to treat anxiety. The only anti-anxiety drugs that should be used to treat chronic pain are some antidepressants that are described in the section on antidepressants. These are mainly drugs that raise the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the central nervous system.

Other anti-anxiety drugs however are commonly used with individuals who have both chronic pain and anxiety. These are drugs that come from the benzodiazepine class. Such drugs include: alprazolam (Xanax, Niravam), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), oxazepam (Serax), flurazepam (Dalmane), and lorazepam (Ativan).

The reason that we make particular mention of the benzodiazepine class of anti-anxiety agents is that when these benzodiazepines are taken at the same time as opioid/narcotic pain pills, or alcohol, or both - they are particularly dangerous due to their effect on depressing breathing. Many of the 70,000 individuals in the US that die of an overdose annually are using combinations of these drugs - and many of these individuals are individuals with chronic pain.

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